There’s no shortage of creativity in the craft beverage industry, but with thousands of breweries, cideries, and wineries, it can be hard to know where to go for inspiration for your next marketing campaign. Look no further — we’ve compiled a list of the best beer, cider, seltzer, and kombucha marketing campaigns of 2021.
But don’t just take our word for it. This list was voted on by a panel of industry experts as part of the Crafty Marketing Awards. This annual awards program recognizes the best marketing campaigns in nine categories, including social media, events, charitable campaigns, and product launches. With so many submissions to choose from, you can be sure that these are the industry’s best campaigns from the past 12 months.
Without further ado, introducing 2021’s best marketing campaigns.
Best Event: Two Docs Brewing Co.
This Texas-based brewery teamed up with the Better Business Bureau of Lubbock to create a first-of-its-kind networking event for their community. Two Docs Brewing Company is committed to serving its community with events and charitable giving. For this event, they brought together industry leaders and community members to talk about topics like cybersecurity, starting your own business, innovation, social responsibility, and more. This free event, held at the brewery, is held on an ongoing basis as a service to the community to gain insights into new topics and provide networking opportunities.
Outstanding Charitable Campaign: Backcountry Brewing
Backcountry Brewing is no stranger to creative marketing strategies, from pop culture beer names to video production to social media contests. But they’ve really made a splash when it comes to giving back to their community. Since 2018, the brewery has hosted an annual “Suck it Cancer” campaign with a limited edition double dry-hopped pale ale and fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation. Through collaborations with a local artist, working with local photographers, and a meet-and-greet event, the brewery has raised over $26,000!
Best Product Launch: Cape May Brewing Company
In spring 2021, Cape May Brewing Company collaborated with Aaron and Lauren Stasiak, the brother and sister duo behind The Qualified Captain (an influencer Instagram account and lifestyle brand), on a Helles lager called Boat Ramp Champ. From the start, Aaron and Lauren were involved in the process, from choosing the beer style (perfect for drinking on the water) and the label artwork. For the launch, the brewery and influencers posted on Instagram leading up to a release party with live music and appearances from The Qualified Captain team. Along with the release, Cape May Brewing debuted merchandise including a hat, t-shirt, and coozie. The launch was a huge hit and they are already planning a re-release for this fall.
Best Packaging Design: Bandido Brewing
PakTech can carriers are the popular choice throughout the industry, but Bandido Brewing in Ecuador saw an opportunity for a more creative beer carrier. They created a beautiful four-pack to-go box that can be modified to show off cans or be sealed up for more protection during shipping. The cardboard box is colorful and provides an opportunity to bring the brewery’s branding beyond the can designs.
Innovative Marketing Campaign: War Horse Brewing
Inspired by Andy Warhol, War Horse Brewing set out to create a new campaign for their Change IPA series that incorporated pop culture into their existing 1940s/World War II aesthetic. They used The Horse, a large horse bust that sits behind their bar, and dressed it up as different historical pop culture characters that align with the current Change beer. The campaign started with a plan for four cans and to date, they’ve launched more than 16, with pop culture icons like Marilyn Monroe, Ziggy Stardust, Hulk Hogan, John Lennon, and The Grinch. It has been a great way to engage customers and employees who are eager to suggest ideas for future launches.
Creative Video Production: Laughing Sun Brewing Company
During the pandemic, Laughing Sun Brewing Company decided to leverage video to promote its new beers. The team created short videos in a continuing adventure series for each new release. The videos were shared on social media and have been shared over half a million times collectively. Check out some of their videos: Pandemic Tears and Beach Scooter.
Best Packaging Design: Great Notion Brewing
In 2020, Great Notion Brewing started shipping their beer within Oregon and to 12 select states across the U.S. To get customers excited and improve their experience with the brand, Great Notion designed beautiful boxes with custom artwork to hold the beer. Customer feedback has been amazing and the brand is regularly tagged on social media in unboxing videos and pictures — proof that customers are connecting with the Great Notion brand.
Judges’ Choice: Motherlove Ferments
Motherlove Ferments launched the “Kombucha for Everyone!” campaign to promote their kombuchas and water kefirs. They created nine personalities to correlate with a flavor and then made personalized Spotify playlists for each. Next, they did a community photoshoot where the models chose the flavor and personality that best matched their own. To tie it all together, Motherlove made a personality quiz where people can find out which flavor represents them best. This interactive content has helped Motherlove connect with customers, collect contact information, and increase the conversion rate on their online store.
Best Overall: Fernson Brewing Company
Fernson Brewing Company released Skip Day, South Dakota’s first hard seltzer on August 6, 2020. The name is a gentle and fun reminder to slow down in a fast-paced world. The team wanted to create a brand identity for Skip Day that is unique from its parent company. They also wanted to make their product stand out from other hard seltzers, so they chose bright, flat colors as a contrast from white bubbly cans. To further the brand message and to encourage customers to visit the brewery, each variety pack includes a “permission slip” which can be redeemed for a free pint of Skip Day at Fernson’s downtown taproom.
Outstanding Charitable Campaign: Marz Community Brewing Company
It’s clear from their name that Marz Community Brewing is all about collaboration, giving back, and supporting their community. During the pandemic, they started a community kitchen to provide meals to people facing food insecurity in Chicago. Partnering with local farmers and suppliers, Marz was able to support local businesses while providing a service for those in need. At their Community Canteen locations, anyone can walk up and order a free meal, with the option to donate what you can afford. They also opened a “love fridge” outside their brewery where people can come and take food (leftover from the Community Canteen or donated by community members), no questions asked.
Judges’ Choice: R&B Brewing
R&B Brewing made their seasonal release for anyone who has had enough of video conference calls during the pandemic: the Green Screen IPA. The packaging design features the iconic green screen color so that people can attend virtual meetings with an invisible beer in hand. Beyond the initial shock factor, the R&B team created an entire campaign with a video, how-to tips on their website, and social media content.
Best Use of Social Media: Royal Bliss Brewing
Royal Bliss Brewing planned a social media campaign that started with demographic research of their target audience: residents of the suburbs of Charlotte, NC. Based on their findings, they created a visual narrative for their Instagram to connect with their brand aesthetic, engage their customers, and grow their audience. The campaign resulted in 74% increase in digital impressions in 30 days and more than 5,000 new followers.